I hope you keep well, have you realised that we are at the end of January 2022 already? I wish you have had a nice month and perhaps you are still following your New Year’s resolutions, if any. I hope one of yours is to keep reading. Therefore, I have a recommendation today: The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews. In case you are not sure, this is not an Austenesque/JAFF book but it does not mean that it is not good!
Apart from my review, if you live in the USA, you could win a great prize full of goodies, moreover, the blog tour is huge! You can read many reviews if you do not trust me 😉
Let me then, introduce you first to the author and welcome her to My Vices and Weaknesses.
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.
The Siren of Sussex is the first book on the series of Belles of London, and what I know about this book (review waiting below for you) and the blurb of the second book (and what I know about the two protagonists!!), I believe this series is pretty interesting.
In case you are wondering why I am saying this, let’s also read advanced praise of this book:
“…a tender and swoon worthy interracial, cross-class romance in Victorian London…Readers will delight in this paean to women’s fashion and horseback riding.”— Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Matthews brings the Victorian era to vivid life with meticulously researched details and an impossible romance made believable and memorable.”— Booklist, starred review
“Matthews deftly underscores racial and gender discrimination in Victorian London in this excellent start to ‘The Belles of London’ series; rather than overshadowing, it propels the romance. Romance aficionados who love fashion and animals will delight in this tender romance and will be excited to see Evelyn’s friends in future installments.” — Library Journal, starred review
“Unflinching, tender, and moving, the delicately crafted The Siren of Sussex might just be my favourite work from Mimi Matthews; it certainly is one of my favourite historical romance reads this year.”— Evie Dunmore, USA Today bestselling author of Portrait of a Scotsman
Great comments of this book, but I think it is time for me to let you know what this book is about and then you can read my opinion.
Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.
Evelyn Maltravers understands exactly how little she’s worth on the marriage mart. As an incurable bluestocking from a family tumbling swiftly toward ruin, she knows she’ll never make a match in a ballroom. Her only hope is to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. In haute couture. But to truly capture London’s attention she’ll need a habit-maker who’s not afraid to take risks with his designs—and with his heart.
Half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik has always had a talent for making women beautiful, inching his way toward recognition by designing riding habits for Rotten Row’s infamous Pretty Horsebreakers—but no one compares to Evelyn. Her unbridled spirit enchants him, awakening a depth of feeling he never thought possible.
But pushing boundaries comes at a cost and not everyone is pleased to welcome Evelyn and Ahmad into fashionable society. With obstacles spanning between them, the indomitable pair must decide which hurdles they can jump and what matters most: making their mark or following their hearts?
What do you think about Evelyn and Ahmad? I am not expert on anything equestrian but I like how this blurb chosen the language related to horseriding as it is a main feature of this book. I will tell you more on my review…
Did I mention that I like the semantics of the blurb? with all the horse-riding jargon? Well, as you can imagine, the dressmaking or fashion lingo is amazing in The Siren of Sussex. You may think that it makes sense as the main protagonist is a tailor, yes, but that does not take away the amazing descriptions that you read about the clothing, be it riding habits or gowns, or the cloth that is used, etc. Exceptional! and I do not even know half of the things that are describe about these attires!
Let’s go with the protagonists now:
I believe that Evelyn has a strong personality with the naivety that woman had at the time. However, she has always a plan. It may not work, it may need to change, to be altered but she knows what she wants and tries to go for it. Although it is not easy. Even more when she starts getting fitted by the tailor who makes amazing habits for the Pretty Horsebreakers. She is not one of them but she wants to outshine them as she is the better horsewoman.
On the other hand, we have Ahmad, the tailor. He is not naif, he has already endured a lot in his life and he just wants the chance to show his work, his extraordinary work. He is sparing with words but what he says something he means everything and there is no doubt of what he says. Let’s say that in a few occasions, you can melt (or at least I wanted to melt).
Evelyn has a plan when she arrives in London for the Season, it is not a selfish plan at all, she wants to do the best for her family (I am not writing the reason why she is the one that has to look after her family, you can read the book). Fortunately, she is not alone, she gets to befriend the Three Furies, I like them very much, they are very different from each other but the four of them have a view of the world that perhaps is not exactly what the polite society deems conventional. They do not care as they behaves and are still ladies but if they want to laugh out loud when they are together, they do (these “small” things that they do differently is what makes them odd for some).
Ahmad is more of a solitary wolf, although his cousin is always there, and he has some friends from his past that are in his life to support him if needed. He also has enemies, mainly one that could jeopardise his objective of opening his own dressmaking shop. Would that person end with all his work and his dream?
As you can read on the advanced praise, the racial and class topic is key in this book too and I believe Mimi Matthews has done a great job to integrate it in a clear way. You can see how Ahmad is treated even by servants when he is a tradesman himself, however, he is not English, well… “full English” (like the breakfast 😦 ) If you were not “pure” English, then you were less than other people. Regarding this topic, the insight on Ahmad’s life and also what we read of the interaction with others reflect very well this issue.
Characters that I have dislike: a Lady and Stephen (I leave it there). You will be able to read why. I think I have disliked Stephen more than the lady who is vindictive.
I have like too many other characters, so I will not write the whole list.
I cannot wait to read more about the Belles of London!!
Are you interested in buying the book? Here you can do it:
Mimi Matthews is doing a giveaway package for US residents only. One winner will get:
To participate click on the link below and follow instructions:
Terms and conditions:
Entrants must be 18 years or older. The giveaway is open from 12:01 am Pacific time 1/4/22 until 11:59pm Pacific time on 2/7/22. The winner will be announced on Mimi’s blog – mimimatthews.com – at 8:00 pm Pacific time on 2/8/22.
You can get to know more about The Siren of Sussex if you check the blog tour:
So many reviews and a couple of interviews! I also like to participate in this huge blog tour because I have got to know a lot of reviewers and their blogs that I did not know about.
Jan 10 Cogitations and Meditations (Review)
Jan 10 Heidi Reads (Review)
Jan 10 Reading is My Superpower (Review)
Jan 10 Austenprose (Review)
Jan 10 Eli’s Novel Reviews (Review)
Jan 10 Robin Loves Reading (Review)
Jan 11 Culturess (Review)
Jan 11 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
Jan 11 Syrie James (Review)
Jan 11 Wishful Endings (Review)
Jan 12 Amanda’s Book Corner (Review)
Jan 12 Quill Ink (Review)
Jan 12 Relz Reviewz (Review)
Jan 13 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)
Jan 13 Roses are Blue (Review)
Jan 13 The Lit Bitch (Review)
Jan 14 History Lizzie (Review)
Jan 14 Life of Literature (Review)
Jan 14 My Bookish Bliss (Review)
Jan 15 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Review)
Jan 15 Books and Socks Rock (Review)
Jan 16 Heather Moll (Review)
Jan 16 The Bashful Bookworm (Review)
Jan 17 Eleanor Lynn (Review)
Jan 17 Bookworm Lisa (Review)
Jan 17 Novel’s Alive (Review)
Jan 18 The Calico Critic (Review)
Jan 18 Bobs & Books (Review)
Jan 19 The Secret Victorianist (Review)
Jan 19 Savvy Verse & Wit (Interview)
Jan 19 Captivated Reading (Review)
Jan 20 Vesper’s Place (Review)
Jan 20 Nurse Bookie (Review)
Jan 20 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
Jan 21 Clarissa Harwood (Review)
Jan 21 Library of Clean Reads (Review)
Jan 21 Bonnie Reads and Writes (Review)
Jan 21 Christian Chick’s Thoughts (Review)
Jan 22 The Literature Chick Book Blog (Review)
Jan 22 Red Headed Book Lady (Review)
Jan 23 Inkwell Inspirations (Review)
Jan 23 Stacy’s Books (Review)
Jan 24 Elizabeth Mahon (Interview)
Jan 24 Jocelyne Reads Romance (Review)
Jan 24 One Book More (Review)
Jan 24 Lady with a Quill (Review)
Jan 24 From Pemberley to Milton (Review)
Jan 25 Confessions of a Book Addict (Review)
Jan 25 Stephanie Barron (Review)
Jan 25 Laura’s Reviews (Review)
Jan 25 Reading with Emily (Review)
Jan 26 Bringing Up Books (Review)
Jan 26 A Darn Good Read (Review)
Jan 26 Lis Loves Reading (Review)
Jan 27 My Vices and Weaknesses (Review)
Jan 27 Katie’s Clean Book Collection (Review)
Jan 27 Lu Reviews Books (Review)
Jan 28 The Reading Frenzy (Interview)
Jan 28 View from the Birdhouse (Review)
Jan 28 Austenesque Reviews (Review)
Jan 28 By the Book (Review)
Jan 29 Cup of Tea with that Book Please (Review)
Jan 29 Chicks, Rogues, & Scandals (Review)
Jan 29 Rosanne Lortz (Review)
Jan 30 Charlotte Brentwood (Review)
Jan 30 Leah Garriott (Review)
Jan 30 Just Another Teen Reading Books (Review)
Jan 30 Literary Time Out (Review)